It’s finally happened. I’ve finally gotten around to playing one of the Rayman games! Honestly speaking, I can’t say that he’s probably going to become one of the more likable main characters. I just can’t get behind this guy in the same way as the hardcore platformer leads like Sonic, Pac-Man, Mega Man, Mario, and Roy(?). That being said, I do like fighting games and I really like 4 player ones. That was a huge advantage that the Gamecube always had over the other consoles. It’s the one thing that the Playstation consoles have lacked. If they ever got this feature for most of their games, it would be Game Over for the competition. This game is great when playing with friends and just good if you’re by yourself. You need to have others around to make the most of this adventure.
There are two main forms of gameplay here, Racing and Fighting. Each of these two options have two more options so lets get right to it. The normal way of fighting is a time limit is set to around 2 minutes and you have to blast each other. The player who scores the most points takes the win. You can use your normal blaster to take away life points from the other player or you can use the power ups which are scattered across the stage. I highly recommend going for these super weapons since they are incredibly overpowered. Grabbing the Green Multi Rifle basically guarantees a full 5 life wipeout for the opponent. There is no way to escape once you have been hit which is why the next 4 shots are confirmed. You can also grab bombs, (Which are terrible) self guided missiles, (Also terrible. They should have grabbed a page from Star Fox Assault’s playbook) and Barriers. (Which are awesome) There are a few more weapons, but those are the main ones. A nice defensive option is a magnet, which lets you steal the opponent’s weapon. Use these tactics to win the fight! You can jump and hide to cheese out the opponent if necessary. It may not always feel fun, but if it works then it’s time to use it.
The other form of combat has both opponents try to grab as many objects as possible. Both players get a freeze gun to start the match and shiny objects are placed around the field. They switch positions each time someone grabs one. The matches are all right I suppose, but these are definitely very luck based and once you have a large lead, you can just stand in place and wait out the clock. I definitely prefer the standard combat. The main racing game has you try to dash to the goal. There are many obstacles around the stages and you have a purple energy blast which you can use to activate traps and grab aerial rings to give yourself a boost. Activating traps may not sound like it’s in your best interests, but you can really trip up an opponent that way. This was definitely the toughest mode as the A.I. is quite good. Just remember to pace yourself and look for the shortcuts. They will certainly come in handy.
The alternate racing style is a one on one fight. You have to get ahead of your opponent by 6 seconds in order to win. This results in a lot of incredibly short 1 lap fights in one player mode, but I don’t see how it’ll work in multiplayer mode when you’re facing someone of similar skill. Maybe you just lose if you’re behind when a certain amount of laps end or something like that. Both players get freeze guns once again so you can try to freeze your opponent at a tricky spot so they lose a lot of time I suppose.
Graphically, the game holds up pretty well. The character designs have that solid Gamecube feel about them. They have depth and everything looks pretty sharp. The color scheme is a bit dark if you ask me, but it’s solid otherwise. The soundtrack is very forgettable though and it doesn’t help that the game doesn’t really have any cutscenes. World of Final Fantasy puts this game to shame in that aspect among others. It doesn’t hold the game back, but having some more up beat tunes would certainly make the game a lot more fun.
There isn’t a whole lot of replay value to be found here. There are 4 tournaments for each event and you can play each event in two difficulties. That makes 32 tournaments or 96 actual matches since each tournament has 3 rounds. You can beat each tournament in around 10 minutes and possible less depending on the event. It’s not a terribly long game, but there’s not much point to beating the hard mode versions aside from a few extra shirts for the characters. It wasn’t enough of an incentive for me honestly and that’s the only post game content available.
Of course, there is one form of replay value that does save the game. I’m talking about multiplayer mode of course. The fact that it is compatible with 4 players opens up a lot of doors that had been slammed. The game would still get a solid 7 if it was just single player, but it would be lacking quite a bit in content. Fighting games get around this through the multiplayer and that’s exactly what Rayman does. This kind of gameplay would work really well with 4 players. It has less depth than others, but the core gameplay is solid. The racing works really well and I can only imagine how chaotic it gets with 4 people around. Likewise for the shooting events. That ultimately helps bump it up an extra star as it’s a game I can definitely see myself picking around Christmas time for everyone to have fun with.
Overall, Rayman Arena is definitely a solid game. Adding in both racing and fighting was definitely a good idea as it adds some variety and also adds more content to the title. A little more of a story would have been appreciated though. It would possibly help me like Rayman more as a character and it would make Story Mode more interesting. Just look at Pokken, they were able to squeeze in a nice story during the normal campaign. Trust me when I say that it makes quite the difference. Of course, Pokken was just a complete masterpiece in every sense of the word so that’s another story. Rayman’s great, but Pokken is amazing. It’s scary how large the jumps are between scores. Look at Super Smash Bros, Pokken isn’t even in the same league because Smash is the ultimate game. It’s like the saying goes, there’s always something better. I digress. I definitely recommend picking Rayman Arena up if you want a new fighting game to play or just something fun and chaotic for a session with friends and family. This game won’t let you down and it’s very easy to simply plug and play. The controls are intuitive.